LAHORE: Hundreds of people attended the funeral prayers of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz – the wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – at a mosque in London on Thursday.
The funeral prayers at the Regent Park mosque, which is separate from another one to take place in her native town Lahore on Friday, were attended by her sons Hassan and Hussain, brother-in-law Shehbaz Sharif, former ministers Chaudhry Nisar and Ishaq Dar among others.
The three time former first lady died on Tuesday in a London hospital after a long battle with cancer. She was 68. She would be buried on Friday in the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family. She will be laid to rest near the graves of her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif.
Later, her coffin was taken to the Heathrow Airport to be boarded on a PIA’s flight to Lahore. Shehbaz, Kulsoom’s daughter Asma, son-in-law Usman as well as a number of other members of Sharif family were also in the flight.
However, Hasan and Hussain have stayed in London in view of the ongoing corruption cases in which they have been declared absconders.
A large number of people including party workers, leaders from other political parties and other dignities are expected to participate in the funeral prayers which will be led by famous religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel. The Turkish foreign minister is also expected to attend the prayers.
On Wednesday, the district government requested the Sharif family to hold the prayers within Jati Umrah that has been declared a sub jail.
However, the family insisted on holding the prayers at the Sharif Medical City. Kulsoom’s jailed husband – former premier Nawaz Sharif, who is out on parole till 17 September – also visited the Sharif Medical City to oversee the funeral prayers arrangements.
It is learnt that Kulsoom’s burial ceremony will be an exclusive affair and media and general public will not be allowed to attend it.
On Thursday, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam – who is also incarcerated and is freed for five days on parole – met with a large number of people, who arrived at Jati Umrah to offer condolences.
Amongst the notables who visited the Sharifs were the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali.
‘Sharif, Maryam refused to request parole’
Earlier, Shehbaz Sharif said former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam had refused to sign the parole application after the demise of Kulsoom Nawaz and the application was signed by him.
Speaking outside the Sharif family residence in London, Shehbaz paid tribute to the former first lady and her struggle for democracy. “She fought with determination and courage.”
The former chief minister added that the deceased’s health was improving before she passed away and asked the nation for prayers. When asked about Nawaz’s health, Shehbaz said the PML-N supremo was grief-stricken after the demise of his wife and condemned those who doubted and dismissed Kulsoom’s health as a political stunt.
Commenting on the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) observation that the accountability court’s verdict in Avenfield Apartments reference may have been based on presumption, he said the public prosecutor failed to provide any evidence linking Nawaz and Maryam to corruption.
“They attended more than 109 hearings yet the prosecution could not prove anything. Our lawyers have made strong arguments in IHC. We are hopeful that justice will be served.”
Separately, a resolution demanding 40-day extension for Nawaz and Maryam was submitted in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday. In the resolution, a PML-N leader sought permission for Nawaz to meet local and international visitors coming in to offer condolences over Kulsoom’s demise.
The resolution pays tribute to Kulsoom for her services for democracy. The assembly expressed sorrow over her demise. The resolution further appeals to the provincial government to declare Nawaz’s Raiwind residence Jati Umra as sub-jail until the end of the 40-day mourning period.